Sometimes you just play the hand you’re dealt and do the best you can with the cards. That’s the motto of several card clubs which have been active in Webster City for decades. The game bridge is popular as a social activity that gives couples an excuse to play cards over food and conversation. Several card clubs thrive in Webster City, meeting regularly and bringing pairs together in both social and competitive atmospheres.
Sue Anderson and her husband, Dick, joined a card club in 1978 when they moved to town. The retirees are one of six couples who gather monthly to play the card game Five Hundred. The 500 Group, as they call themselves, meet for dinner and cards in a stress-free environment that’s more social hour than anything.
“It’s a vehicle for us to get together. We talk more than play cards,” Sue Anderson says.
There’s no pressure to win or lose in the 500 Group. The first place score is rewarded the same as the lowest. The dozen members play casually, their gathering meant to be a fun couples night.
Sue Anderson laughs at the observation that the 500 Group includes one politician, a farmer and three bankers. Regulars in the 500 Group include Mayor Doug Getter and wife Loween, Marvin and Crystal Gordon, Dan and Lynn Corrow, Roger and Barbara Lenz and Steve and Jeanne VandeZande.
There’s no high stakes gambling going on within the 500 Group. Sue points out with a wink that the occasional quarter is exchanged. They meet at each couple’s home on a rotating basis that follows alphabetical order. The date of their next gathering is typically arranged before the current meeting concludes.
Five Hundred is a trick-taking card game in which couples pass or bid on the amount of tricks they will take. Bidding “Nello” in Five Hundred refers to a player intentionally trying to lose all of his or her tricks.
“Any night when Steve VandeZande is playing Nello, it’s a lot of fun. He gets pretty excited,” Anderson says.
Most of the relationships within the 500 Group have been built through word of mouth. Five Hundred players and subs are easy to locate in Webster City, according to Sue Anderson. She looks forward to the future of the card club.
“The 500 Group probably will stay as we are. I don’t foresee the end. We’re having too much fun,” she says.
Sue and Jim Adams
Duplicate bridge is a popular form of the familiar card game that’s played in pairs. The game leaves little to chance, requiring a large amount of skill. Sue and Jim Adams find card clubs across the country where they test that skill against the best players.
The couple is a two-person card club that occasional subs with the 500 Group. The Adamses recently returned from Phoenix, Ariz., where they played in a 40-table bridge game. The Adamses use their association with the American Contract Bridge League so they never have trouble finding a game anywhere they go.
The ACBL allows members to not only locate fellow bridge players, but to track their own progress as a player. There are Masterpoints earned based on individual skill that you may track online. Bridge players follow their stats like a baseball player tracks batting average. Tournaments are organized on the Internet, bigger games drawing accredited officials and professional bridge couples.
Sue describes the interesting world of competitive bridge, where she plays for status opposed to money. There are games of duplicate bridge in Fort Dodge where players can’t speak and bids are placed in silence. The Adamses have played in large bridge tournaments all over the Midwest, mentioning competitions in Omaha, Minneapolis and Des Moines.
At some of the events there are bridge couples, similar to golf pros, who offer mentorship to beginning players. Sue doesn’t consider herself a pro, but enjoys taking the time to teach rudimentary elements of duplicate bridge to new players.
She modestly calls herself an above-average player, crediting 30 years of experience playing against good players from all over the world. The Adamses once played with a couple from Turkey during one of their many bridge trips.
Sue and Jim began playing cards in college and continued during their courtship. They’ve lived and worked in Webster City for 44 years. Both are former teachers enjoying retirement in their two-person card club.
“It’s something we can do together. Now that we’re retired, it keeps us out of trouble,” Sue Adams says.
Sue Adams and Sue Anderson also play with an eight-person duplicate bridge club that meets in Webster City. The card club consists only of women and has met for more than 20 years. There’s no formal name, just consistency. The women meet on Tuesdays from April to November, before snowbirds deplete their numbers. When the snowbirds return, the game resumes with the same scores like it never ended.
The Webster City Women’s Club hosts a popular card game in town. Groups of 16-20 gather every Wednesday at the historic Jane Young House for games of Five Hundred. Card games tend to bring club members together more often than bingo.
Lora Jones is the president of the WC Women’s Club, which has organized the games longer than she can remember.
“We’ve been playing cards for years and years,” Jones says.
She is arranging for a handicap ramp to be installed by contractors, which would open the Jane Young House to even more potential card players. Jones previously served as vice president of the Women’s Club and is a long-time participant in the Wednesday afternoon card games.
Card clubs can be both fun and serious in Webster City. Either way, the clubs provide a social outlet where couples are having true old-fashioned fun. These card players are always looking forward to the next hand they’re dealt.